It’s being called the ‘Google “anti-diversity” Manifesto’. A ten (10) page document penned and shared as an internal memo by a senior engineer at Google, James Damour, officially titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber- How bias clouds our thinking about diversity and inclusion”.
It covered topics like, “Possible non bias causes of the gender gap in tech” and “Non discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap”. The whole document is available on James’ official site. I encourage you to read it yourself for context.
He begins by stating, “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes. When addressing the gap in representation in the population, we need to look at population level differences in distributions. If we can’t have an honest discussion about this, then we can never truly solve the problem.”
James then goes on to give ways in which men and women differ. Such as women on average having more “Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing ).” That they have more “Extraversion expressed as gregariousness rather than assertiveness. Also, higher agreeableness.” And “Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).”
In the section titled ‘Men’s higher drive for status’, he then goes on to say, “We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life. Status is the primary metric that men are judged on, pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail.”
He then gave ways in which he believed the differences in the distribution of traits between men and women that he outlined in the previous section could be used to increase women’s representation in tech without resorting to discrimination. Saying:
- Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
- We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles at Google can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this).
- Women on average are more cooperative
- Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive. Recent updates to Perf may be doing this to an extent, but maybe there’s more we can do.
- This doesn’t mean that we should remove all competitiveness from Google. Competitiveness and self reliance can be valuable traits and we shouldn’t necessarily disadvantage those that have them, like what’s been done in education.
- Women on average are more prone to anxiety
- Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits.
- Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average
- Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture)part time work though can keep more women in tech.
- The male gender role is currently inflexible
- Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally “feminine” roles.
It is important to note that he also wrote, “I’m not saying that all men differ from all women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women…”
As to be expected, there were those who called for James Damour to be fired and even those recommending that he be put on a list to prevent him from ever being hired again.
There were others supporting James. Either because he was predominantly correct, or based solely on the basis of free speech believing that if Google fired him it would be considered censorship.
Articles came out saying that many at Google actually agree with James. A survey of Google employees showed almost half of people agreed in some way or didn’t think the letter was harmful.
As James wrote in his memo, “Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many†personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired.”
Within three (3) days, he was fired…
Danielle Brown, Google’s head of diversity, writing:
I’m Danielle, Google’s brand new VP of Diversity, Integrity & Governance. I started just a couple of weeks ago, and I had hoped to take another week or so to get the lay of the land before introducing myself to you all. But given the heated debate we’ve seen over the past few days, I feel compelled to say a few words.
Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate. We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.
Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, cut his vacation short to condemn him. He told employees that the memo violated Google’s code of conduct, saying:
First, let me say that we strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate, regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. Our job is to build great products for users that make a difference in their lives. To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK. It is contrary to our basic values and our Code of Conduct, which expects “each Googler to do their utmost to create a workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and unlawful discrimination.”
James Damour confirmed that he was fired for perpetuating gender stereotypes. He said in an interview with Ben Shapiro when asked about the possibility of legal action against Google, “It’s a possibility, I’m definitely pursuing though.” Prompting supporters to start raising funds for his legal case.
He has been offered a columnist gig by Ben Shapiro as to write about stem issues particularly with regard to differences between men and women and social science data. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has also made his willingness to hire him clear tweeting:
To quote James’ memo, “Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.”